What we can’t not know: the sordid tale of the Fantasy Slut League

13 Dec

A group of high school boys in California created a competitive club in which members “scored” points by having sex with as many girls as possible.  They called themselves the Fantasy Slut League.  What does such a story tell us about Natural Law Theory?  It would seem to challenge, at first blush, the notion that there is a body of law, higher law, immutable binding universal moral law, divine law, that all men (even high school boys) know in their heart of hearts.  A body of law that “we can’t not know” no matter how hard we may try to suppress it (Romans 1).  But does this story challenge or confirm the Natural Law thesis?

From Carson Holloway:

What we have in California, then, is a case of young people taught by a corrupt adult culture that sex is fun and nothing but fun; that it is a source of physical pleasure unconnected to anything serious or beautiful. Nothing in their souls seems to have rebelled against this teaching, and we cannot help but fear that this is because there never was anything in their souls capable of judging such a teaching to be wrong.

But before we conclude sadly that the natural law must be written only on some hearts and not all, we might reflect that traces of it can be seen even in circumstances far more depraved than those found at this California high school.

Why, after all, does the master speak of his slave as an inferior kind of being? Is it not in order to trick his own conscience, which he has brutalized but not destroyed, and which still knows that it cannot be just to hold a human being as an article of property? Why does the Nazi refer to Jews and his other victims as parasites or vermin, as a kind of disease that must be exterminated for the sake of social cleanliness, if not because he knows that it is wrong to kill human beings who are not personally guilty of any crime?

These considerations let us revisit this story in search of some hint that the natural law lives in the minds of these youth. We find it staring us right in the face. It is in the very name they chose for their undertaking: “The Fantasy Slut League.” Slut. The use of that ugly word in this wretched context points to the natural law. Its derogatory connotation suggests that in choosing it, these boys knew, on some level, that there was something wrong in their pursuit.

Traditional adherents of natural law think that the meaning of sex is not exhausted by the pleasure it brings, but that this pleasure is linked to serious powers and noble responsibilities. By its nature, by our nature, sex is meant to be an expression of a loving and permanent commitment between a man and a woman. More than that, it is meant to achieve not only the good of uniting the couple but also of bringing new life into existence, which the couple will cherish and nurture. From this view, we debase sex—we debase ourselves—when we treat it as a game or an entertainment.

The word “slut” indirectly expresses this traditional view. It is a term of derision. It suggests contempt for the woman who treats sex, and herself, so carelessly. It suggests that she lacks self-respect and deserves no respect from others. The connection between sexual licentiousness and contempt for women is certainly not unique to the boys in that high school. The culture of promiscuity is nowhere celebrated more than in certain kinds of rap music, and no other kind of music is so saturated in contempt for the women that it views as nothing more than sexual playthings.

Considering the word “slut” in this way—as a paradoxically hopeful sign that people do have natural knowledge of the true purposes of sex—is in no way to embrace its abusive and discriminatory meaning. The word is abusive because it suggests disdain for, rather than a desire to help, sexually promiscuous women, whose lifestyle isn’t always a matter of informed choice but often a matter of coercion or the sad consequence of poor parental guidance. The word is discriminatory because it is ordinarily applied only to women and not men. But a moment’s reflection shows this distinction to be unjust and unreasonable.

The story of the “Fantasy Slut League” is sordid and sad, and might tempt some to despair about our culture and the natural law. On careful consideration, though, it also offers evidence of the natural law and hence some hope for the future of our culture. There is no denying that the very fact of the league shows we inhabit a culture that has gone far down the wrong path. At the same time, however, the organizers’ label for their league shows that the materials by which one might try to renovate the culture—human nature, human reason, the natural law—still exist in the minds that the culture has misshaped.

Read the full article from The Public Discourse

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